What is a phone doctor and can they write a prescription?
With a growing population and seemingly fewer and fewer primary care physicians, it can be difficult to get a timely appointment with your doctor even when you’re really sick. Add to that the time spent driving to the office, sitting in the waiting and exam rooms, and the drive back home, and you have used up an all too large portion of your day.
The use of technology and a digital lifestyle are are at an all-time high, and there is no better convenience than that of telehealth, also known as telemedicine, which is the ability connect remotely via video conference, phone call, email, or even text message with a health professional.
This is not to be confused with a virtual symptom checker, which allows you to enter a list of the symptoms you’re experiencing and provides you with a long list of everything that may be (but likely is not) wrong with you.
A telemedicine interaction or “phone doctor” is a one-on-one, private, and confidential appointment with a real practicing physician.
Indeed, telehealth platforms have come so far that you can now see a doctor face-to-face remotely right on your phone. These “phone doctors” are fully-trained physicians who are able to discuss your medical history and current symptoms, examine you, and write you a prescription, as needed, wherever you may be. As with picking any doctor, you’ll want to read reviews and make sure that you’re picking a remote doctor who is a good fit for your personal needs.
Sound too good to be true? There are a few steps you’ll want to take first, like setting up an account, before you’ll be able to work with a phone doctor, but after that, it will be smooth sailing.
How is Phone Doctor Appointment Different from a Traditional Office Visit?
Those who have never experienced a doctor’s appointment over the phone may wonder how it differs from a traditional doctor’s appointment. When it comes right down to it, the main difference is that there is greater convenience when seeing a phone doctor than seeing one in person.
Of course, if you are bleeding, have a broken bone, or experiencing a medical emergency, you’ll want to see a doctor in person.
As with any time that you see a doctor, you’ll first make an appointment, same day appointments are often available. Depending on the website or app that you are using, this may involve filling out a form or creating an account.
At the time of your appointment, you can expect a phone call or video chat (depending on your phone capabilities) with a doctor. In some states a video call is a legal requirement.
During your appointment, you can expect to explain your symptoms or ongoing issue, ask any questions you may have, go over your medical history, and receive a diagnosis and, if necessary, you may even receive a prescription which the phone doctor can send directly to your pharmacy of choice.
You can expect this phone consultation to take about 10 to 15 minutes just as it would in your regular doctor’s office. The best part is, there’s no drive in, no parking, and no waiting room to be had.
How to Get a Prescription From a Doctor you see Over the Phone
If part of the reason you’re seeking an appointment with a phone doctor is because you may need a prescription medication, it’s a good idea to do your homework ahead of time to be sure that the doctor you’ll be seeing is able to write a prescription in your state. PlushCare doctor’s can write prescriptions in all 50 states.
Some common conditions our doctors write prescriptions include:
Primary Care Conditions:
- High Blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mental Health conditions (anxiety and depression)
- Thyroid disorders
- Birth control
- HIV (PrEP)
- Back pain
Urgent Care (non-emergency) Conditions:
- Migraines and headaches
- HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- Sore throat and strep throat
- Yeast infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory tract infections (colds, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus infections)
- Pink eye
- Ear infections
- Stomach issues (e.g. diarrhea)
- Rashes (e.g. cellulitis)
- Dental infection
It’s also important to note that some medications require an in-person, physical examination before they are prescribed. What doctors are willing and able to prescribe over the phone will vary based on the state, the organization that they work for, and even personal preference.
Some examples of medications which phone doctors are unable to prescribe include:
- Medicinal marijuana
- Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal and other antipsychotic medications
- Adderall and Ritalin and other stimulants
- Morphine, oxycodone, Vicodin and other narcotics
- Xanax, Ambien, Ativan, Lunesta and other sedatives and sleep aids
Is Visiting a Doctor on Your Phone Right for You?
Before booking your first appointment with a doctor on your phone, make sure that it’s the right choice for you by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you have the right technology to see a doctor remotely? Many doctors will speak to you on the phone, so you would need to have some way to receive a phone call. However, if you’re hoping to see the doctor, you’ll need a smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet access and a camera. Some programs are also app-based, so you may need to download an app in order to get started.
- Are you comfortable and confident with the answers you will receive from a doctor online? Rest assured that the doctor you’ll see on your screen is a real, licensed physician. They are just practicing medicine in an office that you won’t physically go to.
- Do you have medical insurance? While you may be afraid to make an appointment if you don’t have insurance coverage, seeing a doctor on your phone may actually make things cheaper for you. You can get an estimate of your cost before the appointment and you will likely find that it is less than what it would cost you to see someone in person.
- Will your insurance cover the appointment? A common concern when it comes to medical care is attending an appointment that you later find out was not covered by your insurance and getting stuck footing the bill. The good news is that you’ll only have to pay a copay as outlined by your insurance carrier and you can check exactly what that will be before your appointment. You may even find that you can get an additional discount through your insurance or your employer for using a telehealth provider.
Reasons to Book a Phone Doctor Appointment Today
There are a number of reasons to book an appointment through a phone doctor app or website, the first and foremost of which is convenience. It couldn’t be more simple to book the actual appointment.
Then, there’s the fact that there’s no need to find childcare, drive anywhere, or even put pants on if you don’t want to. For those who live in a rural setting from which it is difficult to get to a doctor’s office, this can save hours of time not to mention gas costs and tolls.
There’s also the fact that doctor’s offices are usually only open during the work week. Taking time off from work to go see a doctor is a hardship for most people especially for a minor illness. That issue is eliminated when using a telehealth provider.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly is avoiding waiting, both for the appointment date and in the waiting room. It may take days to get into see your primary care physician or even weeks to see a specialist. You can expect to wait hours in the emergency room and 45 minutes or more in urgent care. All of this is avoided with a phone doctor appointment.
How to Go About Making an Appointment with a Virtual Doctor
You’ve decided that you’re ready to make a phone doctor appointment – great! If you’re not sure exactly what to do, don’t worry. The process of getting an appointment is just as easy as the appointment itself.
- Find the phone doctor you would like to meet with and check to make sure they are licensed in your state. If you would like, you can also find out what your copay or cost will be at this time.
- If necessary, create an account and login or download the app. Look at the calendar and pick a time that works best for your schedule and book the appointment.
- At the time of your appointment, the doctor will call you while you enjoy the comfort and convenience of your own home or office.
PlushCare Doctors and Prescriptions
You’ll find the very best online doctors at PlushCare.
In fact, our cutting-edge technology can actually ensure there are no drug interactions or potential allergies that would bother you. Just let our doctors know your pharmacy of choice and they can send the prescription there for your convenience.
At PlushCare, our passion is providing the highest standard of care to everyone right from the comfort of their own home. We pride ourselves on being able to meet people’s medical needs ranging from common illnesses and simple injuries to urgent care needs that are not life threatening.
97% of patients are treated on the first visit.
By accepting both insured and uninsured patients PlushCare is able to offer comprehensive and affordable to care to all who need it. For uninsured patients we offer a flat rate fee or $99. Insured patients will be charged the typical copay they pay in office.
If the doctor is unable to treat you, you will be fully reimbursed for you appointment and directed to another doctor who can help.
Read More About Phone Doctors and Prescriptions Here
- Can an Online Doctor Write a Prescription?
- How Do Online Doctor Visits Work?
- Benefits of an Online Doctor Consultation
- Verywellhealth.com. Is it legal to buy other prescription drugs online? Accessed September 26, 2019, at https://www.verywellhealth.com/legal-to-buy-prescription-drugs-from-online-pharmacies-2614903
- Yourstory.com. 4 benefits which you can get from an online doctor consultation. Accessed September 26, 2019 at https://yourstory.com/mystory/761fb7e0d0-4-benefits-which-you-can-get-from-online-doctor-consultation